Q: What is it like to live in Hayward Hills or Castro Valley?
A: The Hayward Hills are mixture of old and new, large and small. Many of the homes come with spectacular vistas of the surrounding area. If you go all the way to the top to Stonebrae, you can get views, a championship golf course, gated community and â€¦ fog. Itâ€™s really a bit like being on Scotland â€“ all thatâ€™s missing is the heather and the bogs.
Click here for a live feed from Stonebraeâ€™s webcam:
As you come down the hills a bit from the top, the weather improves and there are some very nice homes that would fit your budget. There are actually a few neighborhoods VERY reminiscent of Tuscany. One thing to keep in mind: here in the Bay Area, the hills look spectacular in the winter â€“ they are verdant and lush â€¦ and totally the opposite in the summer months. At least the hills on the Pleasanton side have large amounts of trees which substantially improve the view during the summer months.
There are also a couple of problems that have to be factored in if you are seriously considering the Hayward Hills:
1. Commute: There are only two primary access points to the Hayward Hills â€“ both are very congested during peak hours and both feature LONG drives to get up into the hills â€“ if commute times are an issue or convenient accessibility, be forewarned. In addition, itâ€™s a long way down to shopping of any kind, including groceries.
2. Schools: Definitely not one of Haywardâ€™s strong points â€¦ although much of the Hayward Hills is actually not the City of Hayward proper (itâ€™s actually unincorporated Fairview and part of the County of Alameda, not the incorporated City), with a few minor exceptions, children would attend Hayward Public Schools. You can check the following link for school scores for all of Alameda County â€“ scroll down to Hayward:
2011 - 12 Accountability Progress Reporting (APR) â€“ Alameda County
Castro Valley itself is an older community lacking a vibrant downtown such as Pleasanton. Itâ€™s also unincorporated and is a part of the county like Fairview. However, the city is working hard to improve things. You have to be careful in Castro Valley when looking at location: it is serviced by three separate school districts. Only the Castro Valley Unified district proper has the good scores.
Here is a link to Castro Valley Unified school boundaries:
As you move out from the downtown core, you get into the surrounding hills and properties with views. If you are on the far west of Castro Valley, the hills boast views of the San Francisco Bay. Once you cross the first row of hills, the views focus in towards the valley. If you get up into Palomares Hills and Five Canyons areas on the far east of Castro Valley, you once again find views looking towards the Bay. You will also find the newer homes and better schools.
Q: We are looking to move to the east bay from Connecticut. We hope to find an area/neighborhood that will give us a view, quiet and within a 30-40 min commute to south Fremont.
A: In rush hour, the I-880 can get very congested and the normal trip from downtown Castro Valley to South Fremont (30 minutes) can easily take an hour. If you are in Palomares add 10 minutes, 5 minutes for Five Canyons.
As for the Hayward hills, the â€œnormalâ€ commute down from the hills to South Fremont is normally approximately 35 minutes â€“ in heavy traffic, it can also easily more than double â€“ you have to go through the most congested parts of the city to get to the freeways.
Q: The house itself is not a main concern, but we are looking in the price range of $500-850K. We want to narrow to an area that offers those criteria as well as in a vibrant and growing town.
A: While this will put you into a nice home in Castro Valley or the Hayward Hills, I would also take a serious look at Fremont â€“ you can also get some nice homes in Fremont in that price range AND your commute would be also nonexistent. Itâ€™s also dead center between the San Jose and Oakland airports (20 min. each way) and only 30-35 minutes to SFO. If you choose Fremont, you are also only about 20-25 minutes from the Peninsula â€“ we love going over to Palo Alto and Menlo Park â€“ both have wonderful downtown areas with great restaurants, shopping and more.
Q: We also look into Pleasanton and San Ramon, but i think they are just a bit too far to head into SF or even to SFO as my husband would need to fly quite frequently.
A: Agree â€“ if quality of life is an issue, donâ€™t choose a long commute.